Minneapolis property history: data for consideration

Is Minneapolis erasing history by allowing one property to be demolished? No.

There’s been a lot of talk lately of historical preservation in Minneapolis, centering around one pair of houses in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood: 2316 and 2320 Colfax Ave S. Rather than providing a re-hash of all of the arguments for and against (I’ll leave that up to the reader’s initiative to follow the links at the end), I thought I’d take a look at city property records to see whether the claim holds up that Minneapolis is erasing its history, or destroying its baby shoes, by allowing one property to be demolished (as the property owner desires).

Enter the Hennepin County property information database. Here I’m only including properties built before 1900, more precisely properties built between 1860 and 1899. This purposefully excludes the year 1900, because it appears to be some sort of clerical fluke, with a total of 8,425 properties built that year. That seems slightly unbelievable, and I’m guessing someone involved with property records just arbitrarily decided that any set of properties built before a certain date qualify as being built during this year. The data on my map begins however, with 121 Main St SE, the first property recorded in the database, built in 1860.

This leaves us with a total of 992 properties. Keep in mind, there may be data gaps: I only have what the county had when the data was accessed (ca. Apr. 28). A sharp eye may note also, that 2320 Colfax is omitted: the database lists it as built in 1900, and it’s neighbor, 2316, is listed as built in 1903. In actuality, 2320 Colfax is known to have been built in 1893. There may thus be more properties in existence now, which were built before 1900.

Click for a bigger version. Note also, that for additional fun, you can use Street View to inspect the properties for your own history tour of Minneapolis.

An overview of properties built by year:

year properties built
1860 1
1863 1
1864 1
1865 2
1869 1
1870 1
1872 1
1875 1
1877 2
1878 1
1879 2
1880 4
1881 1
1882 2
1883 32
1884 47
1885 64
1886 87
1887 66
1888 55
1889 113
1890 95
1891 52
1892 69
1893 57
1894 47
1895 37
1896 42
1897 34
1898 42
1899 37

Some reading

For a quick summary of the public conversation on the Colfax properties, and preservation in general, check out the following: